BSA, IMPs announce partnership to create social justice fellowship

Fellowship to fund projects to benefit the community

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The organizations partnered together as Johnson is a member of both the BSA and the IMPs. 

Marshall Bronfin | Cavalier Daily

Original article by Katherine Bollard (Staff Writer) and Samantha Josey-Borden (Associate Editor) - already online

Expansion by Hannah Mezzacappa (Associate Editor) and Lakshmi Kopparam (Senior Writer)

The IMP Society is partnering with the Black Student Alliance to present the Social Justice Fellowship grant for $3,000 to a student or group of students with a project proposal that focuses on an area of inequality or injustice.

IMP Society member Sandra Menendez, a fourth-year College student, said projects can address need both in and beyond the University.

“Projects can address inequality and prejudice both at U.Va. and in the Charlottesville community,” Menendez said.

The fellowship is traditionally given by the IMP Society each year to fund a single project benefiting the Charlottesville community. The fellowship normally funds up to $1,000.

“This year, in partnership with BSA, we hope to choose and fund a multitude of projects that address the issue of social justice on Grounds and in our larger Charlottesville community,” Menendez said.

IMP Society member Cameron Smith, a fourth-year College student, said these projects will promote conversation and action in the community.

“Along with the BSA the IMP Society wants to facilitate lively discussion on topics of injustice but also generate action and agency in response to those injustices,” Smith said. “Our hope is that this grant allows students to address and subsequently tackle issues of race that are pervasive and have arisen.”

Menendez, Smith and other IMP Society members collaborated with members of the BSA to create the fellowship’s message and purpose.

“Myself and my fellow IMPs have mainly helped by broadcasting and spreading the word on this new opportunity,” Smith said. “We know people are passionate and eager to better this University, and we want to ensure they're aware of this grant and the resources it offers.”

Menendez said both the IMP Society and the BSA have been heavily impacted by the violent arrest of third-year College student Martese Johnson early morning last Wednesday. Johnson is a member of both organizations.

“The IMP Society is continuing to work closely with BSA to help our brother and our friend, Martese Johnson, in whatever way we can,” Menendez said. “Both groups came together to heal in the heartbreak of the injustice Martese Johnson faced.”

Smith also said the organizations wish to provide support for Johnson and commended his dedication to the University.

“The main thing we want to do for Martese is support him. Support him, love him and make sure he knows we have his back,” Smith said. “Regardless of whether or not this incident was explicitly racially motivated, no one, especially someone as tirelessly involved and incredibly dedicated to improving our U.Va. community as Martese, deserves to be treated the way he was.”

Menendez said the issues that will be addressed by the projects proposed will not only affect minority students but the community as a whole.

“There are students who might never know what racism or classism or sexism feels like, but this does not excuse us from committing ourselves to others' basic human rights,” Menendez said.

Menendez said that the fellowship is an alliance and also an opportunity to bring about lasting change on Grounds and in Charlottesville after a “year-long heartbreak” for the University.

“We hope that the BSA/IMP Social Justice Fellowship will unite many different kinds of communities to address difficult problems at U.Va. and in the greater Charlottesville community,” Menendez said. “Our greatest hope is that it promotes empathy and justice for all who seek it. We are continuing to move forward in unity and are completely committed to supporting BSA throughout all of its endeavors. We hope to engage the larger university community and bring goodness to Grounds. We seek justice, equality and empathy for a shared humanity.”

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